Iowa firm tied to truck deaths has history of legal problems

SCHALLER, Iowa (AP) — The small, family-owned Iowa trucking company linked to the deadly case of immigrant smuggling in Texas has a history of safety and tax violations and financial problems, public records show.

Pyle Transportation Inc. failed to pay federal employment and trucking taxes for years, faced lawsuits from Iowa labor regulators over unpaid wages owed to drivers and has been ordered to pay major penalties for violations of federal safety rules, records show. The IRS and others who say the company owes them money have often found no assets available to garnish.

The company and its driver insist they know nothing about how dozens of immigrants became packed inside the trailer of its 18-wheeler, which was found parked in the searing heat outside a San Antonio Walmart over the weekend. Ten of those passengers died and more than 15 others were hospitalized with extreme dehydration, with one passenger telling investigators people were taking turns breathing from a hole inside the trailer.

Pyle Transportation owner Brian Pyle denied knowledge of any human smuggling and expressed shock and bewilderment over how so many people could have been crammed into a trailer that had his name on it.

“I’m absolutely sorry it happened. I really am. It’s shocking,” Pyle said outside the company’s ramshackle office near the tiny downtown of Schaller, Iowa, a village of 750 in the rural northwestern part of the state.

He said he had reached a deal to sell the trailer to a person in Mexico and hired one of the company’s former drivers, James Matthew Bradley Jr. of Clearwater, Florida, as an independent contractor to drive the trailer to a drop-off point in the border city of Brownsville, Texas.

Pyle showed a reporter a copy of what he said was a bill of sale, dated May 10, which contained no sales price. Pyle declined to identify the purchaser or say where in Brownsville the trailer was to be delivered. The county treasurer’s office declined to say whether paperwork…

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